Working on strengthening stabilizer muscles of the pelvic limbs can provide great support also to joints, especially to the hips and stifle (knee joint).
What can I do to help with injury prevention?
- Ensure good overall physical preparation and strength in the dog’s rear end through strengthening exercises.
- Improve the range of motion in the joints with active flexibility exercises.
- Provide effective warming up before any activity and proper cool-down after.
Once we learned what is a proper neutral position in the Front Feet (FF) Up exercise deeply explained in the Know-how for dog fitness blog post, we can use this skill to now deliberately switch between different head positions with the help of reward / target to provide some extra muscle work!
Let’s take a look at how we can challenge a dog’s rear end musculature more with a simple change of reward up and down.
Using height elevation (front feet up position) will increase weight bearing in the hind limbs.
When in a nice and balanced standing position, we will lure the dog with a cookie or ask for a nose touch to target to turn the head slightly up, and slightly down.
By doing so, the dog will shift weight between back and forth, which will induce alternating isometric contracting and relaxing of the opposite muscle groups especially in the hind limbs due to the height elevation. This will provide strengthening to quads, hamstrings, glutes and gastrocnemius, as well as challenge the core.
What to look for when performing this exercise:
A cool trick with these different rewarding spots, isn’t it?
While having the dog’s front end elevated, we can also dynamically engage hind limbs, and work the muscles through active elongations and contractions. For this, we can do some position changes, such as Down to stands!
Starting out of a nice and balanced FF up position
The dog should fold into a down in a controlled manner, all four feet should stay on the same spot
Powerful but controlled lift back up to the stand, again keeping all four feet stationary
Important: pay attention the dog is ending in a proper down position with knees and hocks in good flexion, and close to the body.
Need a workout suggestion? Performing 5-10 repetitions of down to stands in a row, completed over 2 or 3 sets can already make a nice workout for the dog’s knees, hocks and whole hind end musculature!
So, why not take the advantage of gained knowledge about height elevations and incorporate it also to your workout routines!